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In re Jones-Joseph

Supreme Court of Louisiana

February 28, 2014

IN RE: KEISHA M. JONES-JOSEPH

IN RE: Disciplinary Counsel; - Other; Applying For Findings and Recommendations (Formal Charges) Office of Disciplinary Board No. 12-DB-081.

Disbarment imposed.

Bernette J. Johnson, Jeffrey P. Victory, Jeannette Theriot Knoll, John L. Weimer, Greg G. Guidry, Marcus R. Clark, Jefferson D. Hughes, III.

OPINION

[14-0061 La. 1] ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

PER CURIAM

This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (" ODC" ) against respondent, Keisha M. Jones-Joseph, an attorney

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licensed to practice law in Louisiana, but currently ineligible to practice.[1]

FORMAL CHARGES

Count I -- The Taylor Matter

In July 2008, Loraine Taylor hired respondent to represent her in a community property partition matter. Although respondent accepted a $3,000 fee payment plus $300 in costs, a copy of court minutes reflects that she took no action to advance the litigation. According to the minute entry dated August 12, 2008, respondent enrolled as counsel on behalf of Ms. Taylor. The next entry, which is dated March 23, 2011, reflects the filing of a rule by Ms. Taylor's new counsel, J. Ransdell Keene. Following an unsuccessful attempt to notify respondent of Ms. Taylor's complaint, the ODC hand-delivered a copy of the complaint to her in February 2011, but she failed to respond.

The ODC alleged respondent violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 1.2 (scope of the representation), 1.3 (failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client), 1.4 (failure to [14-0061 La. 2] communicate with a client), 1.16(d) (obligations upon termination of the representation), 3.2 (failure to make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation), 8.1(b) (knowing failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority), 8.1(c) (failure to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation), 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct), and 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).

Count II -- The Smith Matter

In December 2008, Celestine Smith hired respondent to represent her in a personal injury matter. Thereafter, Ms. Smith attempted to contact respondent multiple times, both by phone and by visiting her office, but she was unsuccessful. In August 2009, Ms. Smith met with respondent, at which time respondent advised that due to health problems, she would be referring client files to other attorneys and would soon inform Ms. Smith whether she would be referring her file. When she did not hear from respondent, Ms. Smith attempted to contact her but was again unsuccessful. In February 2012, Ms. Smith finally received correspondence from respondent. In the correspondence, respondent claimed to have sent to her a closing letter dated October 19, 2009 advising that her file was enclosed and that she had until November 21, 2009 to file suit. However, Ms. Smith did not receive the closing letter or the file.

The ODC alleged respondent violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 1.1 (failure to provide competent representation to a client), 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.16(d), 3.2, 8.4(a), and 8.4(c).

Count III -- The Burns Matter

In March 2009, Tatianna Burns hired respondent to represent her in a child custody matter, for which she paid respondent $4,500. After respondent's [14-0061 La. 3] secretary terminated her employment, respondent did not respond to Ms. Burns' phone calls or emails. When respondent's phone number was disconnected, Ms. Burns was able to reestablish contact with her through a third party who requested a refund on Ms. Burns' behalf. Although respondent promised to refund the fee to Ms. Burns within thirty days, she did not do so. After receiving notice of Ms. Burns' complaint, respondent sought an extension of time in which to respond.

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Nonetheless, she did not provide a written response.[2]

The ODC alleged respondent violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 (fee arrangements), 1.16(d), ...


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